Greetings from the Bullock Hotel in Downtown Deadwood. Hey, we’re not just staying here, we’ve got the third floor left center room; the one that faces main street. The one that people use to center their camera shots when taking pictures of this historic building built by Seth Bullock back in the late 1800’s.
Linda and I have been thinking how funny it would be if we were to dress up in bed sheets and each stand in the tall windows waving our arms satisfying all those picture taking tourists outside who have heard and want to believe that the Bullock is haunted. The stories have been going around for years that the spirit of Seth himself floats around the premises having some playful spooky fun with the guests and chastising hotel employees who are loafing on the job. The hotel staff goes right along with it and counts the incidents all part of the inn’s charm. On our last visit here a couple years ago, our friend Joanie swears that a hand brushed across her leg in bed during the night and it wasn’t her sleeping husband Denny next to her. Then while watching a football game on TV, we all heard a knock on the door but when Joanie answered there was nobody there. We, of course, dismissed it as guests next door but she was not convinced.
We all arrived back here at the Bullock on Saturday evening and made it through the night without a single supernatural incident. On Sunday, we decided to watch the Vikings game in our room. So, as we were mixing up a cocktail to either drown our anticipated sorrows or celebrate a royal victory, we heard a definite knock at the door. Joanie went to answer and, again, THERE WAS NO ONE OUTSIDE! She looked around at Linda and me and I swear you could see her face turn white as her jaw dropped. That’s when we could hear Denny giggling from around the corner. He’d sneaked out to get some snacks from their room and decided to have a little fun on his return. It was a beautiful thing to behold and I was so proud of my friend for pulling it off.
Seth Bullock, himself, apparently enjoyed a good joke. That is if you consider ridin’ around the streets of Washington D.C. with a bunch of his cowboy buddies ropin’ negroes funny. South Dakota Magazine has the story in its latest issue about how Bullock became palzie walzie with Theodore Roosevelt way back when Teddy needed to find himself after going through a rough patch in his personal life . He came out to the Dakotas where he bumped into Bullock and the two soon learned to respect and admire each other. Years later when Roosevelt became president, he invited Seth and his buddies to come to Washington and ride their horses in the inaugural parade. Apparently the boys arrived early enough to take full advantage of their old west persona with the local urbanites and found great sport ridin’ up and down the streets of D.C. even lassoing some of the black young people who ran alongside the mounted band of hooligans. Some prim and proper Washingtonians wanted the whole wild bunch locked up but when word reached Mr. Roosevelt he basically excused their behavior as boys letting off a little steam and that was that.
A lot of the stories we’ve heard about characters with ties to Deadwood are just that; stories.. perpetuated by Hollywood. The most recent HBO series “Deadwood” portrayed this one-time gold mining camp in all its raw unfiltered ugliness; Some truth. Some fiction. Seth Bullock’s character, for example, was mostly in the latter category. In fact, Bullock didn’t even arrive in Deadwood until the day after Wild Bill Hickok was murdered during a card game.
I think the show did have a positive effect on tourism but that has long since worn off and it’s getting tough for all these casino saloons to survive year round in downtown Deadwood. Unless there’s an event going on (like Octoberfest coming up) things get pretty quiet this time of year which is fine by me but it’s sad to see places like Miss Kitty’s which occupied three store fronts and the Chinatown Restaurant upstairs closed and most of the Gold Dust which took up a half dozen or more store fronts across the street is also shut down.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to bring new life to Downtown Deadwood. Maybe old Seth himself is going to have to make a more tangible appearance like that zombie whose ear falls off in the Sprint commercial.
To be honest, I am a little disappointed at not having a single apparition to talk about this time except there is one thing that seems a bit odd. I almost called down to the front desk at 3 a.m. to report that someone in the room above us must have a stuck toilet because the water keeps running. Then I remembered WE ARE ON THE TOP FLOOR!
Seth?? Just jiggle the handle.